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The rise of the HCP agency: good for nurses, good for patients, good for the industry

By April 5, 2023No Comments
image of mdgroup CEO tarquin scadding hunt smiling

In our most recent mdtalk podcast, our COO LaQuinta Jernigan was joined by Stephanie Katz, Director of mdgroup’s sister company, Seacolehealth.

Launched in October 2021, Seacole is a talent agency for healthcare and research professionals seeking flexible and rewarding opportunities to work in patient healthcare and clinical studies. They play a vital role in our hybrid trial ecosystem and allow us to consistently deliver remarkable experiences to patients worldwide.

Stephanie and LaQuinta discussed the issues facing nurses and healthcare practitioners (HCPs) in traditional healthcare settings. Low staffing, emotional exhaustion, high workload demands, workplace culture, inequality in pay, and an ageing workforce are just some of the challenges facing our HCPs and registered nurses as they continue to roll with the punches of the global pandemic.

Burnout amongst nursing is reaching critical levels.

Whilst traditional healthcare services are struggling, we’re seeing unprecedented developments in the clinical trials industry

The global pandemic put a huge strain on bedside care within the traditional healthcare environment, but at the same time, it triggered giant leaps forward in clinical trial models. As distancing measures and lockdowns came into force worldwide in 2020, the number of active decentralised clinical trials (DCTs) increased by over 40% from 912 to 1,293.

With organisations such as The Decentralised Trials & Research Alliance (DTRA) empowering and supporting the uptake of this research methodology, DCTs are now a permanent feature of the clinical trial landscape.

Complete decentralisation only goes so far, though, as a one-size-fits-all approach to trial design is not patient-centric. Instead, we’re looking to hybrid models, which prioritise flexibility and ingenuity, allowing us to take the patient to the trial or the trial to the patient, depending on their needs.

We’ve been leading the charge in patient-first clinical trials for over 20 years, and we’re proudly shaping products and support networks to service this developing arm of our exciting industry.

Along with the widespread adoption of hybrid trial models comes opportunity for nurses, patients, and the industry.

But what is it specifically that makes the nursing agency model the right fit for the evolving hybrid trial landscape?

The HCP talent agency is good for nurses

The clinical trials industry is crying out for experienced and dedicated nursing professionals, as more and more are needed to visit patients, administer care, and record data accurately and sensitively within decentralised and hybrid trial landscapes.

Research and trial settings allow nurses to develop their skills and keep up-to-date with clinical developments. The assignment-based nature of trial nursing also gives HCPs agency over the type of nursing they choose.

The HCP agency gives nurses choices

Working in an agency setting gives nurses control over their work-life balance, as work is chosen shift by shift. This flexibility allows nurses the flexibility of being able to select shifts that match their skills, licensure, availability, and location.

Working within an agency environment is also financially rewarding. Indeed, at Seacole, we’ve ensured that our pay levels are up to 70% higher than the average hourly rate currently available across the USA. We also pay for any training required.

Clinical trials nursing leans into a nurse’s original vocational motivation to care. Research nurses have a direct and profoundly positive impact on the specific patient they’re caring for and on every other patient suffering from the same condition that comes after them.

The HCP talent agency is good for patients

Putting patients first has long been the mdgroup mantra, and working with an HCP talent agency, by default, puts patient-centric care front and centre.

Decentralised and hybrid trial models have faced criticism for losing the human touch, especially when technology is used without consideration for the patient’s needs. In the race to achieve trial efficacy, we cannot lose the engagement of our patients.

There are risks associated with relying on the patients or med-tech to record trial data. With decentralised and hybrid trials, medication is often shipped to the patient’s home, which presents many challenges.

An experienced, flexible, caring, and skilled nursing workforce — on demand — that can be activated shift by shift to support each patient’s specific trial experience and ultimately protect trial efficacy is undoubtedly the essence of patient-centricity.

The HCP agency is good for the industry

Our moral duty is to put patients first and make them partners in their care rather than research subjects.

But regardless of the obvious human argument of having excellent patient support, we cannot emphasise enough how significant the rise of the nursing agency is to the success of decentralised and hybrid trials.

As an industry, we know that nearly 80% of all clinical studies fail to finish on time, and 20% are delayed for six months or more.

Hybrid trials go some way towards tipping those statistics in our favour. Don’t just take our word for it; pharmaceutical leaders at McKinsey’s December 2020 Clinical Operations Roundtable agreed that trial adaptations [of DCTs] during the pandemic were positive and helped better address patient needs.

Patients who feel comfortable, confident, and included in their care have a dramatically improved trial experience, leading to better engagement, retention, and clinical outcomes.

Having an expert and caring professional support a patient in their home while taking part in a DCT or hybrid trial will be a critical part of ensuring and maintaining the efficacy of those trials.

What’s good for the patient is good for the trial

From a commercial point of view, the rise of the HCP agency is also a hugely positive move forward. Experienced and expert, flexible resources that can be scaled up or down depending on short- or long-term needs, with just one phone call, is the definition of ‘care on demand.’ The fact this easy-to-access care-on-demand also comes with cost efficiencies is the icing on the cake.

Practically, commercially, and morally, using an HCP agency is an excellent opportunity for nurses, patients, and the industry.

The HCP agency model has a direct, measurable, and positive impact on global health equity.

Indeed, with the overwhelmingly positive arguments for the HCP agency model, the question should not be what makes the HCP agency model ideal for decentralised and hybrid trials, but rather, when will you start using them?

What do you think?

Join in the conversation over on LinkedIn or Twitter using the hashtag #mdtalk. You can listen to the entire series of mdtalk by searching ‘mdtalk’ wherever you get your podcasts.

You can also head to for more information.

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